Switzerland – ISDS & ITs

2 National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2020-23

2.1 Pillar 1: state duty to protect


2.1.5 Policy coherence

Guiding Principle 9

The federal government enters into economic agreements with other States or with business enterprises. They include bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements, free trade agreements and agreements governing investment projects. The federal government should ensure that these agreements provide sufficient domestic policy scope to fulfil the human rights obligations of both Switzerland and the contracting partner.


Guiding Principle 10

Measure 19: Promotion of respect for human rights and labour standards within financial institutions

Investments by the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) are subject to full due diligence with regard to its environmental, social (including working conditions) and governance (ESG) responsibilities. The relevant human rights standards are applied in all ESG risk assessments. This means that the risks of human rights abuses are always taken into account in the investment decision-making process. SIFEM partners (fund managers) are required to submit an annual or half-yearly report detailing their ESG activities and any major ESG accidents and incidents. This information makes it possible to improve the monitoring of human rights issues from the initial situation assessment and right through the investment cycle.

As part of its involvement in international financial institutions, Switzerland actively promotes the systematic reinforcement of ESG standards. It supports the strictest transparency standards and helps to mitigate the potential adverse human rights impacts of projects by strengthening the independent inspection committees that handle project-related complaints lodged by the communities concerned. By creating frameworks and exemplary programmes, financial institutions can advance the promotion of ESG standards, respect for human rights at international level and a shared understanding of problems.

Objective Indicator Responsibility
Ensuring that investments and projects supported by Switzerland in relation to its economic development cooperation and international financial institutions do not have an adverse impact on human rights and serve as an example of international best practices. Human rights due diligence as part of SIFEM investments (source: summary report of the Federal Council on the achievement of its strategic goals).

Swiss contributions within international financial institutions to promote ESG standards, transparency and respect for human rights

EAER [Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research]